“I’m Weary”

What is it we are looking for these days of the hottest summer in my memory? The heat has sucked all my energy and driven me to give up walking until it breaks. I know I’ve been looking for several things. A return to normal just might be one of those items we’d all like to experience. Sure, we have begun the process of returning to normal in the heat and as Covid stubbornly hangs on, or perhaps it’s the people who won’t…

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A Blessing

Sometimes words fail us. Sometimes we can be overcome by the stuff in our lives. The uncertainty and transitions in our lives can be many. That’s pretty much the way it’s been for all of us these days. And to be honest we are just tired. Or perhaps I should say I’m tired. Maybe that’s why I’m retired. One of the things that has been hard for me in this time of transition is to still be creative. Sometimes, as I said above…

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Rest Eternal Grant Him Oh Lord!

As I write these words it’s a few days before Pentecost. I had planned on writing a bit about the Holy Spirit and how he/she moves in our world. I had planned on writing how the Spirit intercedes for us as Paul writes in Romans, “that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words.” yesterday morning changed all that. For I heard the news that an elder had died in Shishmaref. In fact Vincent was 96 years old and full of grace…

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Prayers Around the Cross

“But I, O LORD, cry out to you; in the morning my prayer comes before you.” Psalm 88:13The above quote is from one of the lament Psalms that are in our Bible. Laments tell of the grief and pain either a person or the ancient nation of Israel happen to be going through. Every lament is honest in what is unfolding and each one tells God the truth and asks for help or some kind of deliverance from oppression. And every one, except…

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The Cost of Freedom

In May of 1970 shots rang out on the campus of Kent State University in Ohio as protesters against the Viet Nam War and National Guard troops clashed. In the aftermath it was found that 4 had died that day. I was 15 at the time living in far away Eastern Washington. A few weeks afterwards came a song that may or may not have been a direct reference to those who died that day or perhaps it was to remember the young…

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Jesus driving the merchants from the temple

Into The Temple And Beyond

“Then he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.” Mark 11:11This is the concluding verse of yesterday’s Palm Sunday Gospel. Jesus has entered Jerusalem and made his way to the pinnacle, the very center of Jewish religious life, the temple. Nothing is more holy, nothing more sacred, it is the place that the Lord dwells according to the scriptures.Jesus enters, he looks…

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Two Polar Bear Cubs

I went through the archive of what I have written for these devotions since they began so many months ago. I looked back because I wondered how many times have I written about my time as an interim pastor in Shishmaref Alaska? I found out it was more than once, which isn’t surprising given the transformative nature of that place, 22 miles south of the Arctic Circle. An environment unlike any other, today as I contemplated what I was going to write I…

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Advent Blues

“Advent does not begin in buoyancy or celebration or in a shopping spree. The natural habitat of Advent is a community of hurt. It is the voice of those who know profound grief, who articulate it and do not cover it ever” Walter Bruggemann Those words are from one of my favorite biblical scholars Walter Bruggemann. He hits the nail on the head when it comes to Advent, especially this year. Yes this has been a year of hurt, of “one crying in…

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Uncertain Times

“Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as you have been doing" 1 Thessalonians 5:11Those were the words from the second reading from Sunday November 15. This letter by Paul is thought to be the earliest writing of the New Testament. Before the Gospels were written, before all the rest of the canon was put together we have these words written to a people who were the first generation of Gentile Christians. And it seems that they are struggling.The Second Coming,…

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For I Was Hungry…

"For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” (Matthew 25: 35-36)“For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome…

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Reflection from the Top of the World

As many of you already know I spent six months close to what we might think of us the top of the world. In actuality it was 22 miles south of the Arctic Circle. I had the incredible privilege to serve as the interim pastor of the only church in Shishmaref, Alaska, Shishmaref Lutheran Church. Of course I have written about some of my experiences already on these pages, but today I was reflecting upon what I should write about I remembered some…

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Fire and Smoke

“Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as an evening sacrifice.” Psalm 141: 2 Almost all the evening prayers service I’ve either led or attended have included this verse. Some churches have even gone so far as to actually burn it as the service was unfolding. It was and is a symbol of our prayers metaphorically rising to God to be heard. Today as I write these words we are surrounded by smoke; our…

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Nurtured in Faith

It was 38 years ago on September 5, 1982 at Trinity Lutheran Church in Endicott, Washington that I was ordained into a ministry of Word and Sacrament. It’s been a long, joyous and sometimes strange journey that has taken me throughout the United States to be a pastor, a shepherd of the flock as they say. When this day rolls around each year my thoughts are taken back to that tiny community, population under 400, my thoughts go back to the people of…

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The Waiting

“I will wait for the LORD, who is hiding his face from the house of Jacob, and I will hope in him.” (Isaiah 8:17) Waiting is not something I’m very good at. I admit I’m impatient and it’s hard for me to watch the slow pace of change over the years. Yet that all changed this year, everything changed didn’t it? Almost overnight we went from being these incredible social beings to isolated, stuck at home, and separated - not just by walls,…

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Unconsolable Grief

“O LORD God of hosts, how long will you be angry with your people’s prayers? You have fed them with the bread of tears, and given them tears to drink in full measure. You make us the scorn of our neighbors; our enemies laugh among themselves. Restore us, O God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved.” Psalm 80:4-7We have entered a time of grief like none other in my lifetime. And my life has been filled with grief…

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Anger Management

As I suspect we all have all noticed of late there is a lot of anger out there. I’m guessing that we are all feeling frayed and move to anger much more quickly and it’s doesn’t always seem to be related to the event that might set us off. We are frustrated by too many things dealing with Covid-19 and the rest that it seems we have lost all perspective at times, I’m thinking of the protests about wearing masks for one.This seems…

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Thoughts on “Singspiration”

Cross made of walrus and mastodon ivory It was almost a year ago, in fact when you read this it will be over a year since I left Shishmaref, Alaska and the people of Shishmaref Lutheran Church, which is to say all of Shishmaref, for when you’re the only church or gig in town everyone belongs, everyone comes to you for baptisms, weddings and of course funerals. It was an experience like no other and it still is shaping me a year later.…

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Freedom Blues

“Freedom’s just another word fornothin’ left to looseNothin’ don’t mean nothin’ if itain’t free, no, noAnd feelin’ good was easy, LordWhen he sang the bluesYou know, feelin’ good was goodenough for meGood enough for me and Bobby McGee!”The lyrics above are from one of the greatest songs written, this is verse three of “Me and Bobby McGee.” If you know it then you most likely know that it was written by Kris Kristofferson. It has been performed by so many artists, the most…

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A Journey of Hope!

“For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 We’ve come to a new spot it seems. A place that we’ve never been before and it invokes in us so many emotions, fear, grief, a sense of the unknown dominating our feelings as we move ahead. We are in effect living in a new land unlike the one that came before. Like…

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From Where Shall My Hope Come?

“Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” Luke 24:29 The Gospel for today is one of the most dramatic of all the incredible stories of the resurrection of Jesus, albeit they are all dramatic. This is the story of the encounter of Jesus with two of his disciples on the road to Emmaus. For reasons not identified they don’t recognize him. He asks a series of questions to draw the story out. As they reach…

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Emmanuel is Here!

In so many ways we who are a people of faith have been experiencing this Holy Week and Easter with a sense of dread. There is a feeling that there has never been an Easter like this. This Holy Week through Zoom meetings with friends and colleagues I could see the stress and deep sadness on their brows that they were going through since none of us would be together. Gone are the flowers, the lilies are not there, the tulips and other…

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Freedom to Care

“There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female for all are one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28A few days ago at our book study at a Trinity Lutheran in Nampa we were studying and conversing via Zoom about Rachel Held Evans book “Inspired.” The question was asked what is the Gospel or good news in one word? My answer was “freedom.” Yet in light of everything are we truly free?…

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